An automotive engineer John Brackett figured out that the first-generation Chevrolet Volt can run on not only gasoline, but also on ethanol fuel.
11/18/15 4:00 am chumakdenis 1
More than 4 years have passed since General Motors presented the first generation of Chevrolet Volt and only now we’ve learned that the plug-in hybrid vehicle was originally designed as a flex-fuel vehicle.
The Chevy Volt was originally meant to be a flex-fuel vehicle, capable of running on ethanol blends up to E85, but engineers from GM decided that such capability isn’t necessary and removed it.
Luckily, it can be restored and the only thing that you need to do is to change some settings.
According to John Brackett (an automotive engineer featured in Fuel Freedom’s 2014 documentary PUMP), you need to do a few simple changes to the software in the vehicle’s on-board computer to convert the engine so it would run seamlessly on E85.
“It took me about 2 minutes to change the software program and about 3 minutes to write to the vehicle using a device called the HP Tuners. And those are very affordable. Basically, if you knew somebody with one, it’d be $100 to re-flash your vehicle”- said John Bracket.
Is everything really that easy?
Actually, it is. The thing is that the first generation 1.4-liter engine for the Volt is shared with the Cruze.
And as far as you know, Cruze’s engine was originally designed to be able to run on ethanol blends.
So simple, isn’t it?
“I’ve been working with the Cruze for several years now, and found that it was a piece of cake to go through it” - John mentioned.
“They just did not turn it on; they didn’t activate it. To make things even worse -- easier for me, worse for GM --they have all the ethanol tables already pre-filled, and they actually looked like pretty good tunes for just the ethanol side of things. So they put effort into making this into a flex-fuel car.”
Can I do the same trick with the second-generation Volt?
Well, brand-new Chevy has a larger displacement engine (1.5 liters) with more horsepower (101 versus 84 in 2011-2013 model) and *drum roll* direct injection, so, yes, it’s possible.
“As soon as somebody comes out with the hacking program for them, we’re going to have some good opportunities to be able to alter those as well.”
Furthermore, Bracket claimed that engine in 2016 Chevrolet Volt model is much more efficient for it’s much more usable with alcohol fuels.
So yes, it’s definitely possible.
John Brackett’s experience
John has bought the used 2013 Volt for $16,000(tax incentives included).
Then, with the help of HP Tuners device he activated E85 option and did some magic to the battery -- he squeezed 66 miles out of it (the 2016 model is rated at 53 miles on a full battery charge, and 420 miles on electric and gas combined).
Well, that’s probably all –we also would like to share battery enhancement details with you, but can’t do since Johns keeps them on the QT.
How often does he fill in the tank?
Quite rarely. Here’s what he told us:
“I’ve been filling up on the way down to my parents in Colorado Springs.
They’re at 65 miles, I get almost all the way there on electric, do the last 10-15 miles on E85 and fill up on E85 next to their house.”
In non-FFVs, the check-engine light will often come on if E85 is put in. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, but it can be disconcerting.
“Most people find that they can do up to E60 --by combining E85 with regular E10-- with no code” - Brackett remarked.
“So what I did was, I programmed mine so that it always thinks the car is E50, E60, and it adjusts from there.”
* More information about it on his blog post.
Electric mode rules
Plugging in at home costs him about 2 cents per mile driven. Here’s what he said on that:
“It’s the best driving experience I’ve ever had. The electric motor is quiet, it’s smooth, it’s smarter than I am, it’s reactive to people on the road. Just instantaneous. The regenerative braking is absolutely amazing. I rarely have to touch the brake pedal to slow down, and it regains energy the entire time it’s doing that.”
Well, it’s no-brainer that John prefers electric mode to gas mode.
It’s better in all possible ways.
Should I unlock this feature?
It’s only up to you.
Converting a Volt to run on E85 surely voids all engine-related warranties on the vehicle and this modification is done purely at your own risk.
Neither Brackett nor EVBUD is suggesting that you convert you Volt to run on high ethanol blends, we are simply pointing out that it is possible to do so.
Nevertheless, if you’ll be brave enough to do it, please, share some details with us in the comment section below.